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"The Comforts of Home"

In Flannery O'Connor's short story "The Comforts of Home", frustrated wishes provide the motivations for the character's actions. The entire dynamic of the story is about the tension between two people's frustrated desires. In between them they have a pawn that they use to accomplish what they want. Thomas lives with his mother. His father is dead but is an important presence in the story. The father is constantly returning to Thomas' thoughts, scolding him for his inability to take action the way the father would have done. The story is told from Thomas' point of view, The reader's only real access to the mother is through his perceptions of her. O'Connor never gives the mother's name--she remains "mother" because the son would not think of her in another way. Therefore, the reader can only speculate about the mother's behavior on the basis of what Thomas sees. And what Thomas sees is colored by his single, overriding desire; not the desire to get Star/Sarah out of the house, but to remain there himself.

Thomas, however, is an unreliable narrator. This does not mean that he lies about the situation, merely that he perceives very little about his mother's motivations. He does not even seriously question her motivations although her behavior is very bizarre. Thomas conveniently places his mother's strange behavior. When she takes candy to the young woman in jail this is, he reasons, consistent with his mother's lifelong habits; "Taking a box of candy was her favorite nice thing to do"(354). He regrets being amused at this behavior and he regrets not having "put his foot down" as his father would have done(354). But, most importantly, Thomas never examines his mother's motives for taking on the girl and her problems.

Since the reader is limited to Thomas' point of view, some time passes before the reader asks about his mother's motives. At first, it seems as though his mother is simply becoming senile or mad. T...

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"The Comforts of Home". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:49, February 20, 2017, from